Physical Features

Tattoos, scars, birthmarks, the absence of organs from surgical procedures and other physical anomalies are helpful in making identifications. The presence or absence of any of these characteristics may be helpful in eliminating possible matches, as well as in making an identification. The strength of an identification made on individual or combinations of physical features will depend on the relative uniqueness of the feature(s).

A feature that may be very useful in making an identification is the presence of a permanently implanted medical device such as an artificial joint or a pacemaker. In the U.S., if these devices are removed, they are not allowed to be implanted into another person. Each of these devices bears a unique serial number. The manufacturer of the device can be contacted and the serial number can be used to identify the individual into whom the device was implanted, as well as when and where it was implanted.

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